Our Family of Companies
western & southern financial group logo
western & southern life logo
columbus life logo
eagle realty group logo
Fabric by Gerber Life
fort washington logo
gerber life logo
integrity life logo
lafayette life logo
national integrity life logo
touchstone investments logo
w&s financial group distributors logo

A Conversation with Blake Moore, President & CEO, Touchstone Investments

Blake Moore & Mary Mock
Distinctively Active Podcast

Blake Moore:
Everybody understood what they were supposed to do. We went to the Super Bowl. That's a pretty amazing experience to have as your second year in the NFL, but it really showed me the value of a team and how important it is for everybody on the team to do their part and how important it is for everybody to realize that every person on the team has an important role to play, which rings true in business today, just like it did in the NFL for me 40 years ago.

Blake Moore:
When we get in front of a financial advisor and explain to them what we do and they understand what distinctively active means, how we implement that in our product lineup, and what we can bring to them from a practice consulting standpoint, we win, right? We're going to win. We have so much upside, it's almost incalculable.

Mary Mock:
Hi, I'm Mary Mock, Head of Distribution for Touchstone Investments. Our guest today is Blake Moore, President and Chief Executive Officer of Touchstone. We'll be talking about his career journey that took him from the NFL to the investment world. Let's get started with your background. Where did you grow up?

Blake Moore:
Hi, Mary. Well, I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, although I was born in Durham, North Carolina and lived there for all of six weeks while my dad finished and graduated from law school at Duke. So, longtime Duke Devil fan.

Mary Mock:
What did your parents do for a living?

Blake Moore:
My dad was a lawyer for his whole life. I like to say a real lawyer. He was a trial attorney for 45 years at the same firm in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My mom basically did everything else. She took care of her three boys. I was the oldest and I had two younger brothers. She was about as committed a mom as you could ever hope for or want.

Mary Mock:
Can you talk a little bit on where you went to college, maybe how and why you chose that school in Ohio, and how that really impacted the way you started your career?

Blake Moore:
Well, sure. The true story is my dad always wanted me to go to a very good liberal arts college. Growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, there aren't a whole lot in that area. So, we looked at the College of Wooster. I looked at Colby College. We looked at Bowdoin up in Maine. College of Wooster is in the family, going all the way back to my great grandfather. So, at the end of the day, the College of Wooster got the nod. The side story of that is of the three colleges I applied to, it's the only one that didn't require an essay. So, it was my number one choice, anyway. But I was fourth generation from our family to go there.

My great grandfather played on the first Wooster Fighting Scots Football team in 1889. I don't have it in this office, but I have a picture at home of that team of good looking young men from over 100 years ago, playing in their first College of Wooster football game. I love Wooster, obviously. I met Cindy, my wife, there. That was the most important thing that happened to me at college, but a lot of other great things happen there. Grew up, learned to think, and really got a great education and loved my time there. I've served on the board there now since 2008. So, I've been able to give back to the college that I love so much for the past, well, almost 15 years now.

Mary Mock:
I know that just from reading your book, some of the hard work that you put in while you were there in the summer. I know that just in general, I know you to be a very highly disciplined person, which I respect. So, maybe along those same lines, what role would you say discipline has played in your life, both on and off the field?

Blake Moore:
Well, it's funny, I talked about my mom a little bit. Even though my dad was the trial attorney, I would say my mom was the most competitive person in our family by a longshot. I was the oldest and I was her son. She wanted me to do well in everything. My mom died a few years ago. I say this in only the most loving way, but she was very competitive and want to make sure that I'm doing as well as I could and everything I tried to do. So, that meant hard work. That meant doing things the right way. That meant if you didn't get it right the first time, you did it until you did.

Just a couple of funny stories I tell about my mom, I'm old enough so that back in those days, you actually had to type your papers on with a real typewriter and real paper. I didn't know how to type, but my mom knew how to type. So, she would type my papers for me when that was required in high school. I would give her my essay or whatever it was that she was going to type, but she would not correct any mistake I made in my paper. So, if I misspelled a word in my paper, she typed it and I know it killed her to do it, but she typed it in a misspelled way, because it was my fault and my mistake and I had to learn from it. So, that's just an example.

She brought us up thinking that we could do anything we wanted to do. That's how we were brought up. That's how I always approach things. Yes, self-discipline and understanding how to work hard and what it means to do that day in and day out. Discipline is really a lot about just being willing to do things that other people aren't willing to do. It's the hard stuff. There are a lot of things in life that are easy. There are a lot of things in life that are hard. Many people won't do those things consistently, but I think it leads to success long term.

Mary Mock:
We all know that you played professional football, first for the Bengals and then for the Packers. Maybe what three things or what things in general did you learn while you were there? What were the most valuable things that you took away with you in terms of core beliefs?

Blake Moore:
Yeah, boy, so many things I learned and so many experiences to take away from that time of my life. So, if I had to pick three, one, we've talked about a bit, but it's just the discipline and hard work that's required to be successful at that level. I was a free agent. When I say free agent, I was a free agent back in the days when there were 12 rounds in the draft. So, literally, I was cannon fodder, sign extra bodies, bring them in the camp to get beaten up, and we'll let them go later.

So, when I signed with the Bengals, I was the longest of the long shots coming from a small college, not drafted. I was put in the mix with people that had so much more talent, skill, size, strength than I had. The one thing I had, discipline and the willingness to work as hard or harder than everybody out there. That's all I had. That and I could remember the plays better than some people. So, I can't tell you how many people I played against or practiced against that were clearly better athletes or better football players than I was, but I was willing to do the hard work. I was willing to put in the extra time and effort to be successful. So, that hard work and discipline.

Second thing that I really learned, at that elite level, the importance of being a real team and understanding what your role is. Everybody has a role. Everybody's got to play that role and do it to the best of their ability if you're going to be successful. You might have one or two superstars on the team, but if you don't have 9 or 10 other guys that are really pulling their weight and doing what they're supposed to do, you're just not going to be successful as a team. That really played itself out my second year. We had basically the same group of people the second year that we had my rookie year, but we really came together as a team that second year.

Everybody understood what they were supposed to do. We went to the Super Bowl. So, that's a pretty amazing experience to have as your second year in the NFL, but it really showed me the value of a team and how important it is for everybody on the team to do their part and how important it is for everybody to realize that every person on the team has an important role to play, which rings true in business today, just like it did in the NFL for me 40 years ago.

And then I guess the last thing and this really is important in the business that I'm in now, it's one of the reasons I've loved the asset management business so much, it's highly competitive. But one of the things you realize, there I was a rookie, a free agent. I walked into practice on the last cut down day. You knew you're going to walk in the door. You're either going to get a pink slip, meaning you're fired, or you're going to make the team. You walk in and I made the team. You have this amazing sense of relief flow over you. You say, "Wow, I made it."

But then you pretty quickly realize next year and the year after that and the year after that, you have to do it all over again. You have to make the team every single year. You know what? If you don't get better every single year, you're not making the team. So, that was a real statement to me on if you just stay the same or if you're average, if you're not willing to put in the work to get better every single year at what you're doing or what you want to do, you're going to get left in the dust, because someone else is going to come and take your place.

You look at the business that I've been in for the last 25 years, the asset management business, which I love, it's in a different way but equally as competitive as the NFL, because you are absolutely measured by your performance by what you do every single day. What you did last year doesn't matter. It's what you do this year. If you don't get better, if you're not better than the competition in the asset management business, you're fired. If you're just average in the asset management business, you don't get any business. So, I really think about that a lot. You'll hear me say from time to time, you'll probably get sick of it the longer you know me, that being average over time loses. You can't just be average. We have to be better than that.

Mary Mock:
I mean, even in our industry from a portfolio management perspective, being a strong performer is really just a baseline competency. It's what our distribution partners, it's what our advisors and what their end clients should expect from us. It's really about being a top performer beyond that, both from a product perspective, but then also very true, having grown up in a sales environment, what you're saying very much resonates with the plight of the wholesaler and of salespeople in general.



Mary Mock:
We're only as good as our last day's work. To be constantly driving towards something that is a moving target is a challenge that requires a lot of intrinsic motivation. It requires really high achieving, really bright people, which are wonderful to work with and sometimes can be a challenge to manage, but still great people.

Blake Moore:
Yeah, it's good you say that, Mary, because people ask me, why I like this business so much. It is the people I get to work with. I get to work with bright, competitive, driven, collegial people every single day I come to work. There are not a whole lot of businesses like that. I've worked in other businesses. I've seen other businesses. So, I love it. I love the people I get to work with every day.

Mary Mock:
So, you went from the Bengals to the Packers, Forrest Gregg being your coach both times. Growing up in Cincinnati and loving the Bengals, what I know of Forrest Gregg is that he also was very fond of intelligent players. You talked about your ability to learn the plays and do well. I think your discipline and your ability to comprehend the plays and to be such a strong thinker, I wonder if that had an impact on your desire to want to keep playing for him to maybe how that landed you in Green Bay as well.

Blake Moore:
Well, when the Bengals let me go and it was the same year that Forrest had gone up to Green Bay, I worked out for other teams, but he and I had a good connection. He knew what he was going to get if he brought Blake Moore on the team. He wasn't getting an all pro center or offensive lineman, but he was getting somebody that believed in his philosophy, understood what he was trying to get done, and would bring a certain attitude to practice and to the game every single day.

So, we saw eye to eye there. I have a lot of respect for him. He had really high expectations and demands of his players. I didn't have any problem with that. He'd let you know exactly where he was coming from. I enjoy playing in that environment and understood how it could bring success for a team. So, I really value playing for him my six years. It was a great experience.

Mary Mock:
And then you made the tough decision to exit the NFL and to enter Harvard Law School after you chose to defer your entry for a year.

Blake Moore:
So, let's give credit where credit's due. That usually ends up with my wife. I had been accepted to Duke Law School. Remember I mentioned I was born in Durham, my dad went to Duke Law School? So, I had applied there out of Wooster and gotten into Duke. And then basically they allowed me to have a permanent deferral there for while I was playing in the NFL. So, that was great. And then once I decided that my career was winding down and I was going to take the next step and retire and actually go to law school, my wife, Cindy said, "You should apply to Harvard." I said, "Harvard? They're not going to let me in. I got into Duke, but Michigan already turned me down and Stanford turned me down."

She said, "No, but your resume looks different now, because you've been playing football and you're going to look different than everybody else." So, I said, "Sure. Okay, I'll apply." Well, sure enough, they screwed up my application with somebody else's, let me in. When we went out there to visit, I still felt I had another year to play with Green Bay and I asked them if they would give me a deferral for a year while I finished up my career. They did and that worked out great. So, I played one more year with the Packers and then made the difficult decision to retire, but it was the right thing to do from a family standpoint, move on, get ready for the next career, and go to law school.

So, yeah, that was quite a transition moving from Green Bay to Boston and Cambridge. Back in those days, people talk about all the money that football players make these days. We didn't make that kind of money back then, let me assure you. So, we moved from a large four-bedroom house in the Midwest to a tiny little two-and-a-half-bedroom, one-bathroom condo in the middle of Cambridge. I rode my bicycle to law school every day. So, it was a quite a difference in lifestyle there during that transition, but it was great. Kids were starting to get a little older. Our daughter started kindergarten while I was in law school. We loved Cambridge for the three years we lived there, but quite a transition for sure.

Mary Mock:
I bet. So, understanding your father's career path, but it still begs the question. Why law school for you?

Blake Moore:
Yeah, well, it's funny. Yeah, it's a good question. I never really wanted to be a lawyer like my dad. I went to law school, because at the time and this ended up being true, but I felt it would give me options for my career later on. So, I knew I'd go to law school and I would get out and probably be a lawyer for a while, but I didn't envision myself being the kind of lawyer my dad was, a litigator, a trial attorney for 45 years. In fact, I took much more of a business approach in law school, took more business classes, corporate finance, corporate tax.

And then when I did get out and practice law out in San Diego, for the first few years of my second career, I didn't get a real job until I was 31, Mary, which was great. I focused more on the business side, transactional, M&A, securities, SEC type work. So, I was able to do a fair amount of that in San Diego before I literally took a cold call from a recruiter that happened to be looking for somebody to become a general counsel for an asset management firm. I had had no experience with asset management or asset management firms as an attorney. But remember, I told you the story about my mom and teaching us that we could do anything we wanted to do.

I said, "I can do that job. I should be the one you're bringing in to interview for that job." One thing led to another. I became the first general counsel for Nicolas-Applegate back in 1993. That was my entree into the asset management world with at the time a little boutique firm, growth equity asset management firm in San Diego, California. It was great. Only about 130 employees, we had $10 billion of assets under management in the early '90s and growth equity and away we went. It was a lot of fun. We grew that firm to about $40 or $50 billion over the next 10 years before we sold ourselves to Allianz.

Mary Mock:
And then you were really successful at Allianz as well. Do you want to talk a little bit or would you talk a little bit about your experiences at Allianz and maybe some of your subsequent leadership positions? But before you do that, I will say one of my observations about you is that you do pick up on things very quickly. Sometimes I'm challenged to keep up with you. So, I can imagine that your mother was right, that really anything that you have a passion for... I mean, I'm not so sure about rocket science and cold surgery. But beyond that, I will say, I think she was right in instilling that in you, because that confidence has been really beneficial. Certainly, you've had some success in everything that you've done.

Blake Moore:
Just jump in and start swimming and do it with confidence. Keep your head above the water. After we sold ourselves to Allianz, things at Nicholas-Applegate didn't go that well. So, I was there for the rise and I was there for the fall. Let me tell you, it's a lot more fun growing a business than it is shrinking a business. So, as Nicholas-Applegate, literally, we went from mid-$40 billion in assets to under $20 in about two years. That was some of the hardest work I've ever done, because not only is your business shrinking and you're just not doing as well financially, but the impact it had on all the people and the people I had worked with and the friends.

We had to go through layoffs and shutting divisions down. It was painful. You learn a lot from an experience like that. But part of the result of that was that we had too much leadership at Nicholas-Applegate. We didn't need the senior leadership at Nicholas-Applegate. I had quit being an attorney for many years. I had just become part of the senior leadership team overseeing different areas of the firm. An opportunity came up in another part of Allianz to lead the US retail and mutual fund businesses, which were based out of New York. I'll never forget, I'd been living in San Diego for 15 years, raised our kids there. We loved it.

My boss at the time, Marna Whittington came into me and said, "We have this unique opportunity. We need an interim CEO to go run these businesses in New York City, because they were actually having some SEC trouble with the former CEO. We need somebody with your background and stability, let's call it, to go out and step in and become the interim CEO." I said, "Well, that sounds interesting." She said, "Oh, yeah, I need your answer in about three days." So, basically, I called or went home, and talked to my wife, again, the hero of the story. Our kids were pretty much in college. They were both in college by then. Her response was, "Let's go," just like that, "Let's go, San Diego to New York City." She'd never lived in New York City. I'd never lived in New York City.

There we were literally weeks later plopped into the middle of a brand new city, the Northeast. She grew up in Minnesota. I grew up in Tennessee, and new adventure. Within a few weeks, I was leading one of the largest wholesale distribution teams in our business, because at that time, PIMCO was part of our US retail business. It was run as one business, PIMCO and Allianz. So, my distribution team was responsible for selling all the retail PIMCO funds. We had one of the largest wholesaling groups in the business at the time. This was in the 2004 to 2010 range. What an experience. I can remember when I got there, I was surrounded by my leadership team, my management team.

I basically looked at them and said, "I really don't know what you do and I'm not going to pretend to. I'm going to count on all of you to help me learn this business. I will learn it as quickly as I can and I will support you as much as I can, but I'm depending on you, because I'm not here to tell you what to do or figure out that things aren't going the right way. We're just going to get better and grow. I will get better and grow at the same time." So, I had a great team. They tucked me under their arms. They carried me along. What a great experience that was, learning to lead a group like that, learning the sales business really for the first time. I learned that I love the people that are strong enough and good enough to be in the sales part of this business. It's hard work. It's really hard.

One of my board members gave me some great advice early on and said, "You need to go out and travel with your sales team, because you won't have any credibility unless you've been out on the road with them for a little while." So, I made it a point to go out and travel with my sales team, go to the conferences, spend the day on the road with X, Y, Z wholesaler. I would get back from those days. I would say to the wholesaler, "I don't know how you do it. I couldn't do this. You got to be on every meeting. You got to be on every phone call. It's so hard what you do."

But it gave me such appreciation for the business that they do and the work that they do. It gave me really good education on things that I needed to be thinking about from a leadership standpoint when I'm back in the home office, trying to run the business. So, great opportunity. It's really just again another one of those things that had you asked me a few years before if I would be running a large retail distribution business, I would have said no. I don't know anything about it. What are you talking about? So, another fun thing to do in my career. My career has been very nonlinear, which I love.

Mary Mock:
Yeah, that is a wonderful path. A circuitous route to things is, I think, at least in my opinion, such a great way to learn if you're a lifelong learner and you like new experiences. It's a great way to have a robust career and to tap different portions of your skill set and even define maybe a passion in an area that one wouldn't know you have without that. I will suggest, though, that you've just made 27 really exceptional friends with all of the sales force at Touchstone who now know that you love and appreciate how difficult that job is. I will agree.

Having been someone who wholesaled for a significant portion of the last decade, I can tell you the other component to your travels, I assume, included leaving the hotel at 7:00 in the morning and not getting back to the hotel until 11:00 at night. So, these really unusual hours that wholesalers work also can't be discounted.

Blake Moore:
Well, like I said, I couldn't do it all the time. So, I always have that respect for the job that they do knowing that I couldn't do it. It's too hard for me.

Mary Mock:
We appreciate those comments in particular. Well, perfect. So, then from Allianz, you moved on to McKenzie, UBS, and then Foresters before Touchstone. Anything that you'd want to touch on there as well?

Blake Moore:
Well, all of those jobs were different in their own ways. One of them, I lived in Canada for three years and over three years in Toronto. So, what a great experience to be outside of the US and being in the same business, but as I like to say, the business in Canada rhymes but it's not identical to what we do in the US. So, being able to bring my US experience up to Canada, bring that in, but also learn from my Canadian colleagues, the differences and the nuances. I really loved my time up there.

I met a lot of really, really good people up there. And then just similar roles but with different nuanced leadership obligations, working for a great big bank at UBS and being head of Americas for the asset management division with still a very strong dose of distribution, another really good experience for me. And then Foresters was unique, because at Foresters, in addition to the asset management and mutual fund businesses that I ran, I literally had a wealth management business. So, I had 400 financial advisors that were selling our funds and other funds, but that was part of the Foresters' business unit that I was overseeing at the time.

So, that was in many ways as close to the end client as I've been in my career by having financial advisors that were sitting at the kitchen table, selling insurance and mutual funds to their clients. Again, I would occasionally go out and travel or do meetings. I'll never forget, one of our financial advisors asked me to come up to his client event that he holds every year, where he has some of his best and oldest clients just come to a very casual get together. He called it a paint and sip. So, they actually were doing painting, right? They all had easels and they were doing painting with some art instruction, but there was also a lot of sipping going on of certain beverages, which made the evening go a lot better. So, this is a financial advisor, who had been a financial advisor for, I think, 30 or 35 years.

At that event, he had his very first client that he brought on when he was a financial advisor at the event and he probably had another 50 other clients there, but he asked her to speak. I still get emotional when I talk about it. She was a teacher, never made much money, teacher her whole life, 40+ years. She had recently retired. She got up and basically talked about how she met this financial advisor and what he had meant to her. At the end, she said, "Look, had I not met this financial advisor, I would not have been able to retire." So, just think about the impact.

So, it's just amazing to think about the impact that we can have on people, that our financial advisors have on people, and that the things that we do, our products and our mutual funds, ultimately, those things can change people's lives. So, what we do is important. We think about it as selling and sell more funds and sell product, but there's a reason for it. There's a reason we do what we do. It's a good reason. It can really have a good impact on people's lives.

Mary Mock:
So, maybe that's a good segue to the transition from Foresters back home with the hero of the story, your wife, to Cincinnati.

Blake Moore:
Yeah. So, the Foresters story ended oddly for me, because I went in there with the idea that we were going to rebuild the firm and remake it over the course of five years, but a change in strategy, the parent company decided to sell the business. So, my job became figuring out how to sell the businesses that I was responsible for running and we did that quite successfully. Serendipitously or coincidentally, however you want to say it, one of the businesses that showed an interest in Foresters was Western & Southern and Touchstone. In that process, I met several people on the executive team. Of course, a year passed, because I was then involved in just selling the business and closing it and making the transition happen, but we stayed in touch. As things worked out, this leadership role at Touchstone was coming available with Steve Graziano's retirement. We talked it over. I said, "I love the business, the business model, what you're doing, your growth goals. So, it was a great match."

Moving back to Cincinnati was just icing on the cake. I have one family in Chicago, one in St. Louis. So, being in Cincinnati gives me basically a five-hour drive to either set of grandkids, which is fabulous. So, really fun to come back. The business is all I expected it to be and more. The team and the culture has been wonderful to become a part of. We're having really good success now. Our job is to keep that going and reach even new heights.

Mary Mock:
So, you've been the Chief Executive Officer and President of Touchstone during a pandemic. So, do you want to talk just a little bit about what that experience has been like to hire people and even talk to people on this particular podcast that you've never met in person?

Blake Moore:
Yeah, that's funny. So, first, I attribute most of my success at Touchstone to the fact that many people have never seen my face, because I've had a face mask on for the bulk of my time here at Touchstone. So, that's been definitely a plus. Yeah, people ask me that regularly, I drove up here in my car, took an apartment. My wife and I have now bought a place in Hyde Park, but in the middle of a pandemic and showed up to the office, it's basically me and two or three other executives on the floor, wearing masks and doing WebEx's all day long and meeting the sales team remotely.

I've been so impressed with how everyone adjusted to the different working conditions and situations they found themselves in and not only didn't miss a beat, but picked up a completely different beat and rhythm to their business practice to make sure we stayed successful. Not many firms can say they had a record year during a pandemic. Well, we just did.

That says a lot for the people, from the sales team all the way through the organization making that happen. So, very proud to be part of Touchstone and hopefully can do my part to help us achieve even greater things. We've set our sights pretty high. I'm looking forward to all the things that we can achieve in the next few years.

Mary Mock:
We are as well. I think, our success over the past year, in particular during the pandemic, really does speak to the commitment, the innovative nature, and the high achieving type of output that our group at Touchstone has always been committed to. So, it's really great, I think, despite the circumstances, that you've had a chance to get to know us in that particular way. So, I always look on the bright side of things. For me, I think the pandemic, as bad as it has been, has really provided us a strong opportunity to rethink some of the ways we've really always operated.

There will be some great lessons that we'll take going forward. But certainly, we're all really excited to be able to spend time with you in person. It looks like at some point, as we resume normalcy that will happen sooner than later or at least hopefully. So, with that being said, I have my own thoughts about why Touchstone is such a great place, who we are, what our values are, and what sets us apart from our competitors. But I'm curious to hear through your lens, how you view Touchstone and how we are set apart rather from our competitors?

Blake Moore:
Well, I'll separate into two categories. One is just the business and the business approach. The other is the people, right? On the business side, I was attracted to Touchstone because of the business model and the distinctively active approach to investing. I'm a believer in active management, I can't help myself. I just think that smart people, motivated competitive people, asset managers that know what they're doing will beat the market over time, because you know what? The market is average. Remember what we talked about earlier when we talked about being better than average and why I think this business brings that out in people?

So, I'm a true believer in active management. I love the way Touchstone does it, the distinctively active approach to investing, how we vet and hire our subadvisors to manage the different asset classes. So, I'm proud to say my 401(k) and IRA are now fully in Touchstone Funds and happy to have them there. The sub-advised approach, I think, is also a great part of the business model. It allows us to pick and choose the exact asset managers we want for each asset class. That's really important. It means we're not tied to one particular team. For every single asset class, we go pick the best. So, those things are great. Those are business model things.

From a people standpoint and this is not something I could really get until I got here. I mean, Steve Graziano and I obviously talked a fair amount before I showed up. He talked warmly and lovingly about the culture at Touchstone. I've had the benefit of working at several different firms with really good cultures as well, but you know what he was right? The culture here is unique. Collegial is a word that's thrown around really loosely at a lot of different organizations, but it is absolutely a word that applies here, collegial in all the best ways. People are constructively challenging in their day-to-day work. They're supportive at the same time. They look to help their peers get better at what they do and look every day to get better at what they do themselves.

So, love the culture, the people, motivation. It's all there. When you have that kind of culture and those kinds of people, if you give them the right resources and products and power to do their jobs, they'll run through walls for you. That's largely what my job is to make sure they have all that stuff to enable them to be as good as they can be.

Mary Mock:
So far, we've had that experience when we have planned for our future growth and the resources that it'll take to get there, I can say personally, you're very supportive of making sure we have the infrastructure and the elements that are necessary to grow the organization. So, maybe that begs a question, in terms of just the business model in general and active management, what do you think are the biggest opportunities for an actively managed mutual fund company? And then maybe, conversely, what are the biggest challenges that exist today?

Blake Moore:
Well, look, from an opportunity standpoint and it's an opportunity and a challenge at the same time, we really have to distinguish ourselves. Our brand says, distinctively active. It's one thing to say it, but we have to not only say it. We have to be it and then we have to demonstrate it to people why it makes a difference. Why is it important to be distinctively active? Why should anyone care? Our opportunity and our challenge is to show people why that really matters to the financial advisors and their clients in the long run for their financial well-being. We're better than active managers who are really closet indexers. That's our opportunity and our challenge.

One of the things I loved about Touchstone, first of all, I'll be honest, I hadn't heard about it until I was introduced to Western & Southern and the Foresters process, our market share is... Remember, we sold PIMCO funds. The amount of volume that we were doing was stunning, even back then. Our market share at Touchstone is under 1%. What that says to me is that there are so many financial advisors out there that have no idea what we do and how good we are, that our upside is almost unlimited. I mean, it's almost unlimited.

Because when we get in front of a financial advisor and explain to them what we do and they understand what distinctively active means, how we implement that in our product lineup, and what we can bring to them from a practice consulting standpoint, we win, right? We're going to win. We have so much upside, it's almost incalculable. Let's put it that way. So, when I talk about us doubling our business over the next few years, that is eminently doable.

Mary Mock:
I agree. I look at one of the main challenges that we face right now, especially as an actively managed shop, is that conversation around expenses and fees and really educating advisors on the difference between getting something that you're paying for versus paying little for something that you're not getting. We agree, I think it's that messaging and really educating advisors that's something that's really important to us. Of course, I take ownership in the responsibility of really helping us get to where we need to be assuming all of our products are great, which they are, and that we have access to the right advisors.

For me one component of that, even beyond our business model, is the importance of helping wholesalers and individuals at Touchstone in general, want to continue to build their career here. I think what separates us from other firms is our ability to develop talent, to help wholesalers and individuals in the organization who are really strong performers and who have great potential to want to truly build a career here. That starts with our parent company and filters all the way to us.

When we look at those individuals that have much higher market share than others, it's really a tenure-based scenario. So, I will completely agree with you and take the ownership to make sure we have the right people and that we get ourselves to where we need to be, going forward. So, appreciate that. So, over the next 10 years, what are the biggest trends that you think are going to drive the investment business in general?

Blake Moore:
It's funny, I've been in this business long enough. I've remembered so many consultant presentations that have been predicting the same thing now for 25 years. To be fair, some of them have come true, but other things, it sounds like they're doing the same paper year after year, and eventually, it'll come true. So, I don't think the next 10 years is going to be that much different than the last 10 in some key areas. One, performance is still going to really matter, right? Investment performance is going to matter. If you're going to be in active space, you must outperform. You cannot be average.

I think the passive bandwagon is very crowded and people are going to fall off and it's going to hurt when some of the markets start acting a little bit differently. You know, a 10-year bull market…It's pretty easy to be a passive investor when you're in a 10-year bull market. But I think it'll still be all about a struggle for alpha. Who's able to produce it consistently and in a way that's accessible to investors? There will continue to be a big struggle for assets. As you know, this is a takeaway game. Yes, new assets come into the system every year, because people are investing money, but the vast majority of the assets are already in play, right?

You know better than I do that every single sale we make at Touchstone pretty much is taking assets away from another asset manager. That is not going to change over the next 10 years. In fact, I would say the competition is going to become even fiercer. Part of that is because I think there'll be more consolidations. So, you can only have so many firms and you've already seen it. How many firms can there be out there that just give you an index? You don't need that many. They're all giving it away for free anyway. There'll be more and more scale plays and consolidation in the business over the next 10 years as we've seen.

Look, I'd much rather be an acquirer than an acquiree. I've been on the other end of that. And then last, I think there will continue to be a fee pressure, right? Because it's the passive-active situation, it's consolidation, and it's more information to consumers. So, people are really going to be much more demanding about what they pay for. So, there will continue to be fee pressure and margin pressure on asset managers. That makes scale important. That's not lost on me when I think about how we need to grow and how we want to become a bigger player.

Ultimately, the strong are going to survive and grow. The average are going to fade away or be acquired. That's just how this business is going to work. It's that whole competitive thing again. If you don't get better every single year, you're going to be average and average isn't going to last.

Mary Mock:
So, I know lots of leaders have really specific daily routines to keep them performing at their best. So we'll bring this full circle with performance. What daily routines do you have-

Blake Moore:
Oh, gosh.

Mary Mock:
... that keep you at the top of your game as a leader?

Blake Moore:
Drives my wife crazy, because I am fairly routine on some things. Yeah, I am definitely a morning person. I attribute that in large part... Well, I blame my mom, of course. Again, a side story, when I was working in San Diego in the asset management business, of course, we were three hours behind New York, but guess what? The market's open when the markets open. So, our traders were at their desks and ready to go before 6:00 every morning. My boss, Art Nicholas, who was the founder of the firm, was a portfolio manager at heart. So, he'd be in at 5:00 or 5:30 every morning. This is in San Diego time.

Of course, being the competitive guy that I was, when I started the job, I thought it was important that I beat my boss into work every day. So, I parked nearby him. So, I could see when I was getting there before he wasn't when he wasn't. Even though I don't think we ever talked about this straight up, I think Art didn't like the fact that I sometimes beat him to work. So, we had this very unhealthy competition about how early we got to work. So, we were getting into the office at 4:45, 5:00 in the morning. It's just crazy. So, I became a morning person. And then for 15 years, I was going to work at 5:00, 5:30 in the morning.

Now, part of my routine was at the end of the day, the workday there was 2:00 or 2:30, I'd go to the gym. And then I'd be home with my family for dinner. I'd be out with my kids for their athletic events or their school events. Family dinner for us was a really important part of the day. So, then when I moved to the East Coast, I had to flip the schedule on its head. So, now, I'm in the gym at 5:00 in the morning. I get that done early, but every morning and then come to work at 8:00 or so and put in a good day.

Always make sure I'm connected with what's going on in the industry and the news and then really just try to keep up with my team and make sure everybody gets the pulse and make sure everybody's okay and stay connected. So, that's my routine. I don't burn the candle at both ends. I am not a late person. If I do business dinners and I'm not done by 8:30, it's a bad, bad scene.

Mary Mock:
Good to know that.

Blake Moore:
I'm the executive that will be leading the way to it's time to call it, have dessert, and head home.

Mary Mock:
That's good to know. All right. So, maybe changing gears a little bit, I've really enjoyed getting to know you during the past year. One of the things that I've learned about is your genuine passion for gender and diversity equality in the workplace. Is this something that you've always been passionate about, or was this born out of your experiences working in the investment industry? I mean, how do we begin to solve for this in the asset management world, both maybe now and in the future?

Blake Moore:
Well, that's a big question. I could talk about that for an hour. I'll say it this way. I think, at least my journey, learning about diversity and gender equity is a life journey. It's not something that you're born with. It's not something you flip a switch on. I've learned more about it all my life. I grew up in the South. I grew up in the South in the '60s. So, I grew up in a time when schools were still completely segregated in my hometown. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family where that was not deemed acceptable. I was taught, I believe, many, many good lessons about how we are and how we think as people.

And then as I've already mentioned, the MVP in our family is my wife. I married a very strong woman who's been very successful in her own right in everything that she's done as a person. So, I've learned continuously over the years, I hope, how to appreciate gender and racial diversity more. My time in the NFL, that was about as diverse a workplace as I'll get, at least from a racial standpoint. And then I'll fast forward to this industry.

I think that as an industry, it's no secret, we don't do a great job from a diversity standpoint across the board. It's just one of those things that I think is a challenge for us. What I've learned is that if you're not intentional about things, they generally don't change. It's important to me. The reason it's important to me, other than all the right human reasons that it's important, is that I do strongly believe that we are better as a business and better as a group of people trying to achieve a vision if we have diverse, differing ideas and points of view brought to the table to reach the best possible decisions or conclusions.

I say it all the time. I'm never the smartest person in a room. That's especially true when I'm alone. I amplify that by saying that when you're in a room with people, I want a lot of diverse opinions and ideas in that room. If everybody in that room looks like me, I'm not going to get that. I'm a true believer that from a business standpoint, we're stronger with diversity.

Mary Mock:
Yeah. There's a lot of academic research that shows that companies that are more diverse and that have representation, even on their board in particular and in leadership roles, have better output. So, I think there's definitely a correlation there. But then also, thinking about our industry in particular, how is it that we expect that we'll be able to meet the needs of these underserved groups who are excellent clients, women, diverse individuals, minorities, when we don't reflect those clients?

Blake Moore:
Right, we have to bring more people into the business that are going to be able to share values, share experiences, and bring that to those clients that are not being served right now. You're absolutely right.

Mary Mock:
Thanks to Blake for sharing his story on our podcast today, as well as his insights into his new journey with Touchstone. Until next time, I'm Mary Mock.

Blake Moore:
Thank you for listening to Distinctively Active Investing. Learn all about Touchstone at www.touchstoneinvestments.com/podcast. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know. We appreciate when you subscribe to the show and take the time to leave us a rating and review. Find our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. I'm Blake Moore. From all of us at Touchstone Investments, thank you for listening.

Alpha is the portion of a fund's total return that is unique to that fund and is independent of movements in the benchmark.

Investment return and principal value of an investment in a Fund will fluctuate, so that investor's shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. All investing involves risk. Performance data quoted is past performance which is no guarantee of future results. The information provided is for general information purposes and is not investment advice. Opinions may change without notice based on economic, market, business, and other conditions.

Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the Fund carefully before investing. The prospectus and the summary prospectus contain this and other information about the Fund. To obtain a prospectus or a summary prospectus, contact your financial professional or download and/or request one at TouchstoneInvestments.com/resources or call Touchstone at 800.638.8194. Please read the prospectus and/or summary prospectus carefully before investing.

Touchstone funds are distributed by Touchstone Securities, Inc. a member FINRA and SIPC.

Related Podcasts